This is another of those iconic aircraft. The Me 262 was the first operational jet fighter in the world. It was a design of great, if ultimately unrealized potential.
Let’s look at one of the revolutionary aircraft of World War II.
Both the engine and airframe design of Willie Messerschmitt’s Me 262 were ahead of their time. The swept wing allowed for higher speeds and was an innovative feature. This would become a common design during the Cold War, but it is pointedly uncommon during World War II.
But the jet engines are what were most revolutionary. Turbo jet engines generate more power and less drag than piston engines ever can. Great Britain, the US and Japan were also working on such engines. But Germany, because of the desperate straits they found themselves in by late 1943, pushed the technology forward much faster than anyone else. Arguably it wasn’t ready for operational deployment. The early jet engines like the Jumo 004 used here were very troublesome. And Germany lacked the metallurgic development and resources to make this work. Engine life was typically around 20 hours. Only a desperate combatant would consider such a weapon combat ready.
And the type’s combat record is about exactly what we would expect. It was very dangerous in the air, easily 80 knots faster than any allied type. That kind of speed difference let jet pilots engage or break off at will, and they could often dive through a bomber formation with impunity. But serviceability was low. It was very difficult to put up more than a few aircraft at a time. And apart from the scare factor involved there was little chance of affecting the course of the air war. It entered service too late, in small numbers, against an over-whelming enemy.
This example is in the markings of Heinz Bar, a top ranking ace with 220 kills. He was among the early aces assigned to a jet unit to develop tactics and flight test the design. Bar is believed to have scored his last 20 kills in the Me 262. I took some liberties with these colors. The plane is well enough photographed, but only in black and white. Early in the production of the Me 262 the factory color scheme was changed; from the mid-war grey scheme to a late war green/brown camo. Think of it as switching from an air superiority scheme for a hiding in the trees scheme. Given that Bar was an early adopter of the type, and any ace with over 200 kills is a predator; I chose the early grey colors, which goes against convention for this aircraft. This is the Tamiya kit, and it was a total blast to build.